I used to love cookies, but that was before Wolfenbüttel. Those of us doing research in the archives here get together for coffee every weekday at 1:30. It’s a time to chat and share ideas, pick up mail, meet new people, and sometimes to say goodbye. After I had been here about two weeks, someone brought chocolate chip cookies. Great! I thought. Until I found out it meant goodbye. You can’t go, I pleaded. You’re 25% of the people I know! But the flip side is that you meet new people very quickly. You notice them right away. If you’ve been here a week, you’re ready to show them around.
Life is like that, you say. But I’ve had a more specific type of preparation. In the fifties I attended an American grade school in Teheran. We were a small community in those days. The school opened in 1954 with 100 students in K through 6. Each year it grew a little and classmates came and went as their parents had different projects that ended at different times. My Dad was teaching at the University of Teheran and we stayed four years. By 1958 I had outlasted everyone that I started with. But I knew everyone in the class and I felt completely at home. It was hard to leave.
Sometime in late May I realized I had three grants that would take me to Germany for a very long time. (I had more advance warning than that, of course, but until my orals were over on May 24, nothing else really registered.) Others may panic under pressure, but I go methodical. I focused on one grant at a time, as though it were the only one. I packed and spent time maximum time with my family and took off on June 25 for the German Historical Institute Archival Tour. Flew home for a week, and flew back to Germany for seven weeks research in Wolfenbüttel on a Thyssen Grant.
Tomorrow I fly home for two weeks and come back for a year on a Fulbright scholarship. I’m happy I’m going home and I’m happy I’m coming back. Wolfenbüttel is a good place to be and I didn’t want to bring cookies to coffee today.